Announcement and Call for Participation:
Free Bitflows: Cultures of Access and Politics of Dissemination
Vienna June 2004
What’s going on here?
In early June 2004 a digital culture event will be held in Vienna to examine the theories and practices for making new cultures of access viable.
The problem is clear, but not the solution. As some means of production are becoming as cheap as to be practically freely accessible (last year’s computer equipment, software, basic Internet access), a new question confronts independent cultural producers: "how can we organize access to cultural works to match the new freedom of production?"
The Internet came with a promise that ‘everybody can be a publisher’. Although not everybody wants to be a publisher, those who actually do, find it very hard to make it work. As it turns out, this promise is only true in an extremely limited, technical sense. While, yes, I can set up a website, or put my song on Kazaa, but what next? The problem becomes not so much technical as social- there is lots of sharing, but little in terms of making a living. Money remains squarely in the hands of the old industry.
The issue of distribution is not just an economic question. It’s also a political one. At stake is the "semiotic democracy", that is the ability of the largest number of people to create and share culture freely, and it is about making sure that in the context of overabundance and heavy-hitting marketing machines, new, independent content can still find its audience. In short, the question is how do innovative production and distribution come together to support each other. Free Software seems to have found a way to do just that, but what about the rest of cultural production?
We invite the interested public to participate in this event. There are many ways to do that. Coming June, you can join is in Vienna. Before that, artists, theorists, observers, activists or space aliens are invited to propose presentations for the conference and themes for the workshops, to submit works for the exhibition, or apply for a residency.
Further information on the conference, workshops, residencies and exhibition can be found on the project website and below.
Free Bitflows is a part of the exStream project, a two-year collaborative project in which five media art organisations are working together through the exchange of organisational, artistic and technological resources to create a common platform for the creation and distribution of new media art projects.
Hull Time Based Arts (Hull, UK); V2_ (Rotterdam, NL); Bootlab (Berlin, DE); interSpace Media Art Center (Sofia, BG); t0 / Institute for New Culture Technologies – Public Netbase (Vienna, AT)
The conference will take place on June 3-4, 2004. In format it will proceed along a series of relatively dense presentations, organized into larger themes, to facilitate the interaction among the presenters and with the audience. We expect this to allow us to deal in depth with four themes, roughly three speakers each. We invite those interested to submit a proposal for a talk. Below are the four main themes, please indicate which of these your talk would address.
* Organizational Intelligence for Independent Producers: "Content Syndication and Sharing"
The content gap is encroaching the independent information providers- The ruthless market efficiency not only shapes content, the quality and depth of information content, in the mainstream channels but the pressure of a global neoliberal regime also has various effects on the not-for-profit intelligence nodes. Being able to compete in certain standards and formats of culture and knowledge dissemination requires smart, mobile and flexible solutions which make best use of the tools of information technology. Global informational networking seems too obvious to mention… but how can it be made into an actual practice and real asset for independent content providers?
– Reconfiguring Independent radios
– Content Sharing for Independent Publications – Independent TVs and the crisis of content
* Search and Destroy
"The politics of search engines and retrieval systems"
Search engines are essential aspects of pull media. Yet, as the recent rumors of Microsofts takeover of Google have indicated again, the search space is not neutral. "Access for all" is not only about hardware and bandwidth, digital restrictions or passwords for gated content, but also about the makeup of the data space structure retrievability – of autonomous machinic intelligence, literacy for networked computers and distributed processes. The next digital divide between state/corporate powers and independent actors of civil society is manifest in this realm of advanced systems pattern recognition and computer aided decision making and semi-intelligent memory construction or information deflection. Database politics are at the heart of Homeland Security and geomarketing, of the Intelligence Business and the electronic mass media. We would like to investigate the cultural and political implications for an emancipatory practice look into the tools that are available to the public vs. the means that are accessible to select entities and corporations and how to be able to find independent content in the massive information flood. Distributed processing power and P2P search systems could provide Information filter capabilities that outperform corporate CPU farms similar to a SETI project that looks for life on earth.
– The political economy of searching: tools and access – A Critique of Google: one search engines to rule them all? – Network Indexing: metainformation, p2p indexing and other strategies
"Secret Infotunnels and the Net Beyond DRM"
The famous Microsoft study concludes that the powers that be don’t stand a chance to the reality of the so called "Darknet". A somewhat optimistic note from an unexpected side. What exactly is the Darknet and how can its dynamic, which seems to be able to humble mega corporations, be applied to further the levels of freedom and independence in digital networks. How can the privileges of the corporate structures be used against the logic of the free markets and how can the invisible hand work its occult spells in favor of the streets. Alternative (infra)structures and hybrid solutions after the WiFi hype and the next generation of anonymous P2P
– Anonymity: a relic of the 1990s?
– Freenets and other anti-censor technologies – Kingdom of Crack and the State of Warez
* Compensation (De)Central
"Alternative systems and concepts for compensation of authors"
What are the new models and alternatives for a direct beyond the big gatekeepers of the music industry? With only 5% percent of the value going to the creators, there are chances to cut out the media cartels to achieve a fair compensation for artists and a broad distribution of "stuff". What are existing examples and what should we learn from the experiences being made. To reclaim utopias in defense of the imagination might provide enough room for manoeuvre to allow the emergence of new practices beyond the all too real dystopias of digital restrictions at the end of the world as we know it.
– If we fail: The world according to DRM
– Alternative Compensation Schemes for digital content: the vision – Alternative Distribution of Music: the reality today
Workshops are organized in various locations for hands on skill sharing. Proposals are welcome.
The show will present examples of artistic practice in net cultures that provide a deeper understanding of the dynamics of information distribution, accessibility and retrieval. Projects that fit into the overall context of the event theme include, among others, applications that handle structuring of heterogeneous media and data sources or combinations of push and pull media applications and the use of live streaming as well as installations that deal with distributed content or investigating a balance of exchange in file sharing.
The exhibition is intended to provide a broad view that looks into data mapping and indexing, the ambiguity of data processing and machinic analysis, as well as ways to explore alternative carriers for data transmission, privacy and secrecy. Staging works dealing with overarching issues from intellectual property and restrictions management to new network charts will give a complementary artistic perspective to the conference talks and workshops.
We are looking for a selection of works to be presented or installed in an exhibition for a 2 week period in Vienna June 2004
Submitted works should address the issues above and reflect on the conference themes on a technically manageable level.
Please provide us with concept, description and a detailed list of the technical equipment for a suggested installation setup. Please indicate if you need to be present for setup and installation and/or takedown.
The project includes a small number of residencies for artists to develop a project for the event in June. There are still residencies available which are intended to allow applicants to develop a project in Vienna to be presented at Free Bitflows. These short term residencies (up to one month) include travel within Europe/ accommodation/ subsistence and artist fee.
All applications should refer to the format and space requirements of their proposed presentation/installation in Vienna, including maps and measures.
Please apply with concept, description and detailed technical list of the equipment for your project as well as additional requirements during the residency.
Felix Stalder (CH/CAN) und Konrad Becker (AT)
Production: Public Netbase (Vienna, AT)
+43 (1) 522 18 34
http://freebitflows.t0.or.atÂ Â Â
ex-stream.net is carried out with the support of the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union.
The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, nor does itÂ involve any responsibility on the part of the European Community.